October 19, 2004

Old-style politics

I was out in mixed company a couple nights ago and the word "pretext" was uttered. This is the Annex - Ground Zero for Canadian Stupid - and the word "pretext" could only hint at some revelation concerning the true motives of the war against fascism given the simplisme of, like, self-defense. This sort of talk is only to be expected around here yet when I consider the sheer mendacity of some of the President's opponents I find I still have the capacity to be shocked. The President put it best.

President Bush on Monday accused Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry of "shameless scare tactics" by suggesting that the president would jeopardize Social Security for older Americans and bring back the military draft for young people.

There have been some howlers directed at past presidents, of course, and I suppose there are many people who honestly believe President Bush is waiting to implement secret plans and only lacks the moustache to adopt a pose of true moustache-twirling evil. It is the conspiratorial element in the thinking that troubles me far more than simple opposition to the Bush presidency or any particular policy of his administration. I have an American friend who has already voted for Senator Kerry. This is someone who sincerely believes the attacks of September 11, 2001 would not have happened had there been a President Gore in the White House. This is a good, honest and sincere person, one of the few people I have ever known I can say has a heart of gold. And someone I believe has got the facts plain wrong. While I am dumbfounded by this opinion I can only say that were I to share it my hopes for the American election would be quite different.

But here is the fact. Senator Kerry is going to lose the election and he will do so decisively. The only question is how the left of American politics chooses to react. Will the Democratic party choose to prepare for a second Clinton presidency in 2008? Or will the Deaniacs look credible in comparison with what is to come? The answer matters not only to America's choices for the presidency down the line but also to the possibility of genuine debate about strategy and tactics in this Thirty Years War. Consequently, America's neighbours will have the opportunity to reflect sanity or moonbattery as the conversation unfolds.

So here is my plea to the American left: please, for the love of everything we hold dear, choose the course that takes us to those sunlit uplands Winston Churchill spoke of not so long ago. Pick up some economics, credit the sworn words of our enemies and value the humanity of women forced to live under the burka as much as the humanity of urban North American arts council claimants. There is a conversation to be had with the most strident of your domestic opponents. The most fervent evangelical will never approve of your marriage but he will honestly pray for your soul. The most devout Roman Catholic will never condone your views about abortion but she will do her level best for the lives of children. Believe the expression of these views to be misguided or mistaken but accept them for the best of intentions. Perhaps, just perhaps, our own good intentions will be recognized for what they are and some way forward can be found. On some issues there can seem little room for compromise. But through this odd blogging habit I have discovered even the strongest disagreements need not be disastrous and have learned something of how my own progressive bigotry clouds my thinking, offers an excuse for my own obnoxiousness and denies me the wise counsel of people with differing opinions. My experience this last year has not changed my mind about abortion rights, gay marriage or the war on some drugs. But it has opened my mind to differing opinions and opened my heart to the souls of people who disagree with me.

We have to do better. We have to have honest debate about the most important things. Heaven knows there is plenty to disagree with given the policies of the current American administration (or indeed any administration). But Senator Kerry's misrepresentations are not only going to lose him the election... they are just not helping with the work that needs to be done. It is that or the mushroom cloud and I fear that even working together we are going to lose a city or two before this is done. And Mr. President, if by some fluke you or yours should read this, please remember those of us who disagree with you in your prayers.

"I know it's hard on America. And in some small corner of this vast country ... there's a guy getting on with his life perfectly happily, minding his own business, saying to you, the political leaders of this country, 'Why me, and why us, and why America?'

"And the only answer is because destiny put you in this place in history, in this moment in time, and the task is yours to do."

- Tony Blair
Posted by the Flea at October 19, 2004 05:51 AM | TrackBack

I'm always amused when you report "from the front", as it were, on the Annex types who keep on saying "it's all about the oil."
So what?
What, does the oil all eventually end up in BushCheneyHalliburton's wallsafe, or something?
What a bunch of jackasses. How long do they think their nice antiseptic bubble of progressivism in the Annex is going to last in a full blown depression...which is what would happen in our Western society without its life's blood, OIL.
If they don't like the West's complete dependency on a substance too often discovered under fanatical Muslim real estate (I for one am not thrilled about it myself), then why didn't they put their money where their mouth is and study something useful like, oh I don't know, chemistry, nuclear physics, or materials science. As opposed to, say, "The Hermaneutics of Homophobia in Modern American Children's Literature"

Posted by: Demetrius at October 19, 2004 08:53 AM

I grew up in the Annex -- lived in the neighbourhood from when I was 4 till I was 12.

I went to school in the Annex -- went to St. George's from grade seven through university entrance.

I know the Annex.

The Annex will forever remain the Annex.

(It also served as the location for at least two of the murder cases I studied in Crim.)

Posted by: Ben at October 19, 2004 10:00 AM

I grew up in "The Junction" (Keele & St. Clair West area) myself; the "wrong side of the tracks" in truth;)
Thus, I'm just a woking-class Joe (yeah right) and most of my family and friends from there are as well. Most of them make no bones about their dislike of Americans...but at the same time support them in their efforts to suppress the Islamic terrorists. Sort of like the attitude of Charles De Gaulle, who didn't like Yanks yet during the Cuban missle crisis unreservedly supported the Americans, without even looking at the intelligence photos.
The justifications of the more academic types in the Annex that the Flea describes just seem a bit...hypocritical. You may dislike your cousin, but in the face of a common enemy you back him up. Where I grew up that was just common sense, it was just what was done, that's all. The international scene is a very bad neighborhood, after all.

Posted by: Demetrius at October 19, 2004 10:50 AM

Flea, dude - Amen, from this pro-life, RC, gay-marriage indifferent ex-lefty.

I don't know how many times I've been forced to point out that the people being described by the left as nothing short of SA or Klansmen are in fact the ones working hardest at this moment in history to preserve the rights of women, minorities, legitimate refugees, gay men and women, even commies, anarchists, and self-styled "enemies of the state". Because none of them would stand a chance if the enemy won.

(And Demetrius - I grew up in Mount Dennis, just north of the Junction.)

Posted by: rick mcginnis at October 19, 2004 08:43 PM

Churchill was a conservative. Other than that, I loved the post. Kudos to the Flea.

Posted by: Curt at October 21, 2004 06:26 PM

Yeah, I knew I was quoting the wrong authority there... still, he is so Aragorn at the battlements of Helm's Deep that it is impossible to resist.

Posted by: Flea at October 21, 2004 07:26 PM

I'm not sure what you could call Churchill, really. He was a romantic, for sure. But he had certain beliefs which he held dearly (and went from party to party for -- he ratted twice). You could say that he believed in Free Trade, liberal democracy (for some, anyway), and the Empire. :-)

Posted by: Ben at October 21, 2004 10:48 PM
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